Sunday, 23 December 2012

Monday, 17 December 2012


Minimal clearance, stubborn rubber feet!

Old washing machine is only dead weight,

Its ballast an aggregate of odours

And memories, washed-out life stains rinsing

Fades but doesn’t remove. Now though it must be

Hauled from its dedicated niche behind

Matching unit doors. My son has method

And muscle, is lithe enough to squeeze through

To turn off and disconnect the hoses

In a way I once would have for my dad

As he stood aside as I stand aside,

Letting the job be done efficiently.

Just twelve months ago I carried dad

In the crook of my arm where once I held

My infant son. He’d wriggled, was lively,

While dad, desiccated, being interred in

A glossy cardboard cylinder like one

Of the more obscure malts he liked to sip,

Was also difficult to hold. After

Easing the old thing out there is a space,

A vacancy the son eventually

Fills with a new appliance for his dad.
                                                          Dave Alton


Sunday, 16 December 2012




Wednesday January 16th 2013 7.30pm. Admission free. Bar and bookstall.

Northern Voices Community Projects Annual Awards event. The presentation of the annual Northern Voices Community Projects Joseph Skipsey Awards and a commemoration of the Hartley Pit Disaster with poems and songs. This event launches Dr Keith Armstrong's writing residency at the Mining Institute and will also mark the 45th anniversary of the death of Newcastle writer Jack Common and the 110th of his birth, with readings from his works. There will be readings from the NVCP commemorative book on Hartley 'Still The Sea Rolls On', funded by North Tyneside Council, featuring Rachel Cochrane, Catherine Graham, Keith Armstrong, Robert Lonsdale, Geoff Holland, Dave Alton, Gordon Phillips and more, with songs by local folk groups 'Kiddar's Luck' and 'The Sawdust Jacks' and by Chris Harrison (great great grandson of Tyneside pitman poet Joseph Skipsey (1832-1903), who will perform a settting of Skipsey's Hartley ballad), Gary Miller of 'The Whisky Priests' and a special guest appearance by Northumbrian Piper Chris Ormston with a set of tunes, including his Hartley Lament.

The NVCP  touring exhibition on Hartley, produced with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and North Tyneside Council, will be displayed in the Mining Institute from January 7th to February 1st.

Monday, 10 December 2012



sing of my home city
sing of a true geordie heart
sing of a river swell in me
sing of a sea of the canny
sing of the newcastle day

sing of a history of poetry
sing of the pudding chare rain 
sing of the puddles and clarts
sing of the bodies of sailors
sing of the golden sea

sing of our childrens’ laughter
sing of the boats in our eyes
sing of the bridges in sunshine
sing of the fish in the tyne
sing of the lost yards and the pits 

sing of the high level railway
sing of the love in my face
sing of the garths and the castle
sing of the screaming lasses
sing of the sad on the side

sing of the battles’ remains
sing of the walls round our dreams
sing of the scribblers and dribblers
sing of the scratchers of livings
sing of the quayside night

sing of the kicks and the kisses
sing of the strays and the chancers
sing of the swiggers of ale
sing of the hammer of memory
sing of the welders’ revenge

sing of a battered townscape
sing of a song underground
sing of a powerless wasteland
sing of a buried bard
sing of the bones of tom spence
sing of the cocky bastards
sing of a black and white tide
sing of the ferry boat leaving
sing of cathedral bells crying
sing of the tyneside skies

sing of my mother and father
sing of my sister’s kindness
sing of the hope in my stride
sing of a people’s passion
sing of the strength of the wind 



In blood I am
an apprentice boy of Newcastle.
Falling foul
of hacks and parkies,
I tipple and prance
and strum my poems at night.
I sing in the Blackie Boy
and tap-dance on tables.
I wear my shoes on my head
like some medieval surrealist,
a Geordie Bosch.
I go fleeing about 
down Pudding Chare
with the company of fools.
Pissing music in the dark,
like a ruffian
I wear curls around my ears,
The City Fathers will rail
at all my gay ribbons and lace,
my gold and silver threads
and shoes of Spanish leather
but give me the pudding-basin treatment if you will,
see if I fucking care you bastard Puritans,
you killjoys.
I’m a Jingling Geordie
and freedom flies nightly
in my flowing hair.



The apprentice boys of Newcastle kept falling foul of the Puritan tendency. An Act of the Merchant Adventurers of 1554 thunders against their gay dress and 'tippling and dancing... what use of gitternes [guitars] by night!' In 1603, the youths are again enjoined 'not to dance or use music in the streets at night': nor are they to deck themselves in velvet and lace - or to wear their 'locks at their ears like ruffians'. All to no avail: in 1649, Newcastle's Puritan elders were still railing against ribbon and lace, gold and silver thread, and coloured shoes of Spanish leather. Nine recalcitrant youths received the pudding-basin treatment for their hair.
Despite this killjoy attitude it is nevertheless the case that the Newcastle corporation was unique among towns in maintaining a 'company of fools' from 1561-1635. Fools were otherwise confined to courts or noble families. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012




                                  THE TYNESIDE POETS

Tyneside Poets is a group of men and women residing in the North East, who believe that poetry should not be an ivory tower activity, but should go out to the people. Since January 1973 we have given readings at various festivals, in pubs, car parks, town centres and at folk groups. Members have been invited to Sweden, Germany and Iceland. 
Tyneside Poets hold regular meetings, give readings, issue small press publications and stage occasional exhibitions on specific themes. We have appeared on radio and TV, and have presented readings at the Newcastle Festival. 
We have had visiting poets from the USSR and Germany. We have set up exhibitions of Soviet poetry, and German poetry. Poets have come, at our invitation, to Newcastle such as: Maia Borisova, Michael Dudin, Violetta Palchinskyte and Joseph Nineshvilli from USSR; and Oswald Andrae and others from Germany. 
Our small publications have included translations from many languages done by our members. In POETRY NORTH EAST we seek to bring the work of our members to the notice of a wider public. We have had our poems translated into German and Russian and published abroad. We have had articles about our group in magazines in the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Germany. 
Tyneside poets aim to encourage poets and writers; they also strive to develop better understanding between peoples. 

Alan C Brown 10 November 1976